Monday, March 01, 2010

Traffic snarls cripple Traffic snarls cripple ambulance mobility

Traffic snarls cripple Traffic snarls cripple ambulance mobility
Poornima Nataraj, Feb 28, Bangalore:

Two ambulances could not reach Carlton Towers on February 23 to help in the rescue operation. The reason - they were stuck in the traffic jam on Koramangala Intermediate ring road for more than 40 minutes.

Apparently the ambulances had to return as traffic did not budge for the emergency service. Although there were enough ambulances to assist in shifting the patients on that day, the big question is - what if it was a big disaster?

Dr A N Venkatesh, Consultant and HoD of Emergency Medicine, Apollo Hospitals says that emergency services must be prepared for the worst. “We sent five ambulances and two of them could not reach the spot as our ambulances were jammed up in the traffic. Though the opposite side of the ring road was empty, there was no co-ordination from the traffic police to help us reach the spot,” he said.

Time is the most crucial factor and one of the biggest challenges is passing through Bangalore traffic. “We do not intimate traffic police about any ambulance arrival. I guess the ambulance siren should be more than enough for public and police to act on and give way,” added Dr Venkatesh.

New vehicles
With new vehicles adding every day to the City roads, emergency services struggles to reach its destination braving the traffic congestion on the way.

The recent Carlton Towers mishap calls for co-ordination among departments to smoothen the rescue operations. Be it disaster management team, fire department; ambulances or police, reaching the spot is the most important thing.

‘Golden hour’
The term ‘golden hour’ is defined as the time from when an ambulance call is picked, till the patient is driven to the destination hospital for treatment.
Raj Doctor, Chief Operating Officer of the 108 emergency ambulance service in Karnataka says reaching the destination through Bangalore traffic is a huge challenge.
“Despite sending necessary alerts to the traffic police, crossing some of the gridlocks in the traffic becomes a tough job. Sometimes our police dispatch officer gets down from the ambulance to inform the traffic police to make way for ambulance. Sometimes public and police become insensitive,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Panduranga H Rane agreed that there is no co-ordination in ambulance movement in the City.
“If there is a prior intimation about an ambulance movement, we can help clear the traffic, but sometimes it becomes difficult even for the traffic police to clear the traffic block,” he added.

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